Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky described the punishment of those responsible for the downing of passenger flight MH17 eight years ago as “very important”. But this will be a secure foundation for peace only when their leadership in Russia is condemned, he added in his video message on Thursday. He had earlier made it clear on Twitter that he held the Russian leadership responsible. Impunity leads to more crimes, he said, referring to the Russian war of aggression against his country that began at the end of February.
A Dutch court earlier sentenced two Russians and a Ukrainian to life in prison. They allegedly brought a Buk-type air defense system from Russia to eastern Ukraine and shot down passenger flight MH17 with it. All 298 people on board the Boeing 737 flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur died in the July 2014 crash.
Moscow rejected the ruling
As expected, Russia rejected a Dutch court’s guilty verdict of shooting down the passenger plane with political motives. “The course and results of the talks show that the version of Russia’s intervention in the tragedy (…) is based on a political mandate to strengthen,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said on its website Thursday.
The Russian leadership has previously dismissed the process and has always denied responsibility. “The negotiations in the Netherlands have every chance of being one of the most scandalous in history – with its long list of quirks, inconsistencies and questionable results of the prosecution, yet it flowed in judgment,” the Foreign Ministry reiterated.
In his video message, Zelensky also expressed satisfaction with extending the grain deal. “Despite all the difficulties and various manipulations by Russia, we will continue to export agricultural products through our Black Sea ports,” the 44-year-old said. The expiring deal was extended by 120 days on Thursday through mediation by Turkey and the United Nations.
Zelensky emphasized the importance of Ukrainian grain exports for the food supply of poor countries. About 450 ships have left Ukrainian Black Sea ports since the start of the grain deal, which ended a month-long Russian sea blockade, bringing food to countries such as Ethiopia, Bangladesh, Somalia and Sudan.
Duda: Ukrainian investigators can’t get involved without further ado
According to Polish President Andrzej Duda, the participation of Ukrainian experts in the investigation of the rocket attack on Polish territory is subject to the terms of international legal assistance. “If guests from Ukraine want to see the ongoing investigation, we can show them like I did today,” Tuda said Thursday after visiting the affected area in the village of Prezevotov.
“But when actively participating in investigations, access to documents and information, specific contractual grounds are required based on international law and international agreements.” Zelensky previously said experts from his country would be allowed to participate in the investigation. The confirmation came from Poland.
The IAEA demands that Russia withdraw from the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant
The Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has called on Russia to abandon the occupied Zaporizhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine. According to a resolution passed by the committee in Vienna on Thursday evening, Moscow must immediately withdraw its military and civilian personnel and abandon its “baseless claim” of a nuclear power plant in southeastern Ukraine. The Board of Governors is deeply concerned that Ukrainian workers at the plant are being pressured by the Russian side and that arrests have been made.
The third IAEA resolution against Russia since the start of the war in Ukraine was backed by 24 countries, according to diplomats. China and Russia voted against. The Zaporizhia nuclear power plant has been under Russian occupation since March. Since then, Europe’s largest nuclear power plant has been subject to repeated fires.
US arms aid to Ukraine continues
According to the US Department of Defense, US military support has totaled $18.6 billion since the war began in late February. In recent months, the Americans have been sending various packages in quick succession – mostly from US military stocks. The Pentagon confirmed on Thursday that the Americans’ own operational readiness was not at risk. Earlier there were rumors that the US might not deliver some weapons soon.
It will be important on Friday
After the G20 meeting, the Apec summit begins. The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) brings together countries around the Pacific region – and representatives from Moscow and Washington are meeting again. Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Belousov, a key economic adviser to President Vladimir Putin, will represent Russia. Because of many Asian countries, Moscow sees an opportunity in APEC to advance with its expanded turn to the East, thereby weakening the effect of Western sanctions.